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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Turning ideas into reality

For the first time, Genovasi, a Design Thinking school is offering varsity students a chance to provide solutions and facilitate positive change.

GENOVASI is calling on university students to be the catalyst for positive change by taking part in the inaugural RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards.

The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards is open to all university students, both locally and overseas, enrolled in undergraduate or postgraduate courses.

Participants may enter the competition either individually or as a team with a maximum of six people per team.

As part of the competition, candidates must showcase their ingenuity and innovation skills as they tackle from a choice of three possible topics and generate practical solutions.

Genovasi which is Malaysia’s first and only Design Thinking school, is working with the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), to bring this competition to Asia for the first time.

The competition has been based in the United Kingdom for more than 80 years and as a result of heightened international interest, the RSA launched its first Student Design Awards outside of the UK, in the United States in 2012. The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards marks the third country in the world to hold the competition and the first in Asia.

Genovasi chief inspiration officer Carol Wong said: “We are pleased to partner with the RSA to provide university students in Malaysia as well as internationally with the opportunity to be recognised for their achievements and also contribute to the betterment of society.”

Wong said the prevalent issues of the day are worlds apart from what previous generations dealt with.

“As such, our way of thinking needs to evolve accordingly in order to address these issues. We must be able to utilise all the tools at our disposal to tackle this and bring about viable solutions.

“The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards offers an accessible, world-class platform for university students to provide solutions, propose change and impact society,” she said.

By tapping into their potential and using Design Thinking, Wong said students would be able to come up with new and meaningful ways to facilitate positive change.

“As the participants learn to develop solutions with real-world applications, these could go on to be beneficial towards the larger community.

“As we work towards cultivating innovative ideas and designs with this competition, we also encourage Malaysian youth to think differently and turn the nation into one that is known for its innovations,” she said.

Design Thinking offers students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and valuable insights into today’s multi-faceted problems.

As a human-centred approach to innovation combining empathy towards people with enthusiasm and curiosity for current and future technologies, the Design Thinking process will enable participants to identify needs, solve complex challenges and turn ideas into reality.

Taking part in the competition will provide university students with the chance to enhance their prospects, providing access to exclusive career development opportunities.

The winner will receive attractive rewards worth a total of RM450, 000.

This includes a three-month internship at Genovasi, complementary Fellowship of the RSA for one year, admission into Genovasi’s Innovation Ambassador Development Programme, as well as a cash prize of RM5,000. The winner will join an international network of over 27,000 Fellows in more than 100 countries.

World leaders

Notable Fellows over the years have included world leaders, inventors and noted authors, such as Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking and Jonathan Ive as well as historical figures such as Charles Dickens and Benjamin Franklin.

The RSA Fellowship will open new doors for the winner and may even allow them to implement their solutions with access to funding through the RSA Catalyst Fund, which provides money and expertise to Fellow-led ideas that aim to have a positive social impact.

Fellows also have access to the RSA’s various facilities and wide network which will prove beneficial for skills development and industry exposure.

Malaysian flavour

Local interior designer Ong Su Ping is brimming with enthusiasm about the celebrated RSA Student Design Awards.

Established in 1924, the annual competition aims to empower university students the world over to develop solutions to pressing social, environmental and economic issues using the principles of Design Thinking.

Having joined the Student Design Awards as part of her syllabus at Birmingham City University in the UK, Su Ping competed with other university students throughout the UK and internationally.

In her entry, Su Ping developed a solution to change perceptions of middle-aged people, coming up with a collaborative art studio called ‘Overlap’.

Her entry was recognised for its innovation and creativity, receiving a ‘Highly Commended’ from the panel of judges comprising practising designers, industry experts and social innovators, in acknowledgement of the impressive standard of work.

Describing her experience, Su Ping said: “From a young age, I would always tell my teachers that I wanted to be an ‘artist’ when I grew up. It took me some time to find out that what I really meant was ‘designer’.”

“The competition was a real eye-opener that pushed me to delve deeper into the Design Thinking process, a methodology which allowed me to truly discover the root of a problem, and tailor a solution to specifically tackle it,” she added.

For Su Ping, the competition was not without its challenges but ultimately enabled her to expand her capabilities.

“The early stages were the most difficult for me. Identifying the problem was easy, but devising a unique and creative solution for it was the tough part.

“I consulted my lecturers, bounced ideas around with my peers, and most importantly, I never stopped asking questions,” she added.

Su Ping was happy to learn of the RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards saying that ‘Design Thinking’ is still relatively new for a majority of young Malaysians.

“Joining and responding to the briefs set for this competition will be a great way for students to expose themselves to the creative thought process and pick up Design Thinking skills along the way.”

Su Ping said it will be a memorable and enriching learning experience as the RSA is a prestigious and internationally-recognised organisation.

“Taking part in this competition will definitely be a valuable addition to a university student’s portfolio and resume. In fact, my entry was one of the reasons my current employer stood up and took notice!” added Su Ping.

Advising students keen on taking part in the RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, Su Ping said participants should not start with the end solution in mind but rather focus on the process of getting there.

“Brainstorm, draw bubble diagrams, sketch, doodle, mind map – don’t be afraid to materialise your thoughts.

“It is the Design Thinking process, namely by focusing on the needs of the end user and developing insights to come up with viable solutions, that will help you find answers to your questions.

“Only by really understanding the problem will you be able to formulate a well-thought solution that is truly genuine, unique, and creative.”

The closing date for submissions is May 16.

For more information on eligibility, submission, judging criteria and awards, visit www.genovasi.my/rsa-genovasi/overview

Tags / Keywords: Education , award


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